General duties; relation and liability to persons interested in estate; standing to sue.
(a) A personal representative is a fiduciary who shall comply with the prudent investor rule set forth in sections 30-3883 to 30-3889. A personal representative is under a duty to settle and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of any probated and effective will and this code, and as expeditiously and efficiently as is consistent with the best interests of the estate. He or she shall use the authority conferred upon him or her by this code, the terms of the will, if any, and any order in proceedings to which he or she is party for the best interests of successors to the estate.
(b) A personal representative shall not be surcharged for acts of administration or distribution if the conduct in question was authorized at the time. Subject to other obligations of administration, an informally probated will is authority to administer and distribute the estate according to its terms. An order of appointment of a personal representative, whether issued in informal or formal proceedings, is authority to distribute apparently intestate assets to the heirs of the decedent if, at the time of distribution, the personal representative is not aware of a pending testacy proceeding, a proceeding to vacate an order entered in an earlier testacy proceeding, a formal proceeding questioning his or her appointment or fitness to continue, or a supervised administration proceeding. Nothing in this section affects the duty of the personal representative to administer and distribute the estate in accordance with the rights of claimants, the surviving spouse, any minor and dependent children and any pretermitted child of the decedent as described elsewhere in this code.
(c) Except as to proceedings which do not survive the death of the decedent, a personal representative of a decedent domiciled in this state at his or her death has the same standing to sue and be sued in the courts of this state and the courts of any other jurisdiction as his or her decedent had immediately prior to death.
Source:Laws 1974, LB 354, § 142, UPC § 3-703; Laws 1997, LB 54, § 14; Laws 2003, LB 130, § 128.
Under the Nebraska Probate Code, the right and duty to sue and recover assets for an estate reside in the estate's appointed personal representative, not the devisees. In re Estate of Hedke, 278 Neb. 727, 775 N.W.2d 13 (2009).
A trust beneficiary's estate can seek to enforce the beneficiary's interests in the trust to the same extent that the beneficiary could have enforced his or her interests immediately before death, consistent with the standard provided in the Restatement (Third) of Trusts section 50, comment d(5). (2003). In re Trust Created by Hansen, 274 Neb. 199, 739 N.W.2d 170 (2007).
When a claim presented in the manner described in section 30-2486 and within the time limit described in section 30-2485 is disallowed by the personal representative, the dissatisfied claimant may, within sixty days of the mailing of notice of the disallowance, commence a proceeding against the personal representative in the district court insofar as the claim relates to matters within the district court's chancery or common-law jurisdiction. Holdrege Co-op Assn. v. Wilson, 236 Neb. 541, 463 N.W.2d 312 (1990).
Under subsection (a) of this section, the county court erred in failing to remove a personal representative who failed to comply with a progression order with respect to the filing of a federal estate tax return. In re Estate of Snover, 233 Neb. 198, 443 N.W.2d 894 (1989).
Section 24-517(1) confers upon the county court exclusive original
jurisdiction of all matters relating to the decedents' estates, including
the probate of wills and the construction thereof, except as provided in
subsection (c) of this section and section 30-2486. Lenners v. St. Paul
Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 18 Neb. App. 772, 793 N.W.2d 357 (2010).
If a licensed attorney serves in the capacity of a personal representative, the attorney is considered a fiduciary with the special skills of an attorney and is held to the standard of care of personal representatives possessing special skills; the attorney's actions are to be reviewed as actions of a personal representative with special skills, not as a licensed attorney. In re Estate of Snover, 4 Neb. App. 533, 546 N.W.2d 341 (1996).